Getting a driver’s license can be an exciting time for teenagers—and their parents, too!
However, driving also poses many risks for new teen drivers, which can be concerning. In fact, drivers under the age of 24 are at the highest risk for car-crash fatalities, which are the most common form of death for that age group.
If you’re the parent of a teenage driver, keep reading to learn about the dangers your child might encounter on the road, and how you as a responsible parent can help mitigate the risks.
There Are Specific Rules for New Drivers
Depending on where you live, your teen driver will have driving restrictions prohibiting them from certain things, such as having multiple passengers in the vehicle, having passengers under a certain age in the car, driving past a certain hour, and using a cell phone behind the wheel.
You can check your state’s teen driver guide for specifics regarding the driving restrictions your child might face.
In addition, it’s important for you—the parent—to set your own guidelines with your teen driver. This can include anything from avoiding certain streets that are known to be dangerous to washing the car on a regular basis.
Abiding by state driving restrictions and your parental guidelines will ensure your teen can safely and responsibly learn how to drive.
Kids Learn How to Drive by Watching You
You may be wondering how to teach your teen road safety. The truth is that you’ve been teaching them their whole life.
Children learn a lot, including how to drive, by watching their parents. So, do you drive aggressively? Do you get road rage? Do you sometimes speed around corners?
These are all behaviors your teen driver could have picked up from you—same with drinking and driving and other extremely dangerous behaviors.
The truth is that we’ve all done some poor role modeling for our kids when it comes to driving. But, now that your teen is at a pivotal point in their driving life, try to make a conscious effort to drive as safely and calmly as possible—they’ll be watching!
Your Involvement Lowers Their Risk
It’s been shown that when a parent is involved in their teen driver’s education, the teen is much less likely to engage in reckless driving behaviors.
According to Stacy Johnson, manager of the traffic safety campaign Zero Fatalities, “When you have parents involved, your teens are 70 percent less likely to drink and drive, twice as likely to wear their seat belt, 30 percent less likely to talk on their cellphones—all great reasons for a parent to be involved.”
It’s Not the Same as When You Were a Kid
We’re not making any accusations here, but chances are a lot has changed since you started driving. Even going back just a few decades will give you significantly fewer cars and much slower traffic on the road.
Even more worrying, teenagers now are bombarded with distractions, from billboards to text messages to Instagram-worthy sunsets: The opportunities for interruption on the road are endless.
Take some time to specifically discuss the dangers of texting and driving with your teen driver. You might consider setting a rule, like their phone needs to be turned off once the car is on, or download an anti-texting and driving app on their phone to help facilitate safe driving behavior.